Out of Boat Experiences

Similar to the “last swim question”, but this one for non-rollers, or stories from before you could roll:

Have you had any OBEs? Specifically ones that triggered changes in your paddling. Different attitudes toward skills, changes to outfitting, etc.

Nothing like the real deal for some quick lessons. Nothing like learning from others to avoid same! 'Tis the season for safety.

My only one so far that was unplanned was a pretty boring dump and routine paddle float recovery in warm water (which I’d practiced and was prepared to do as I paddle alone a lot from the start) - but even that was enough to motivate me to quickly move beyond self rescues that require a wet exit, extra gear, and pump out - except as a backup. SOT play in waves before I moved to sea kayaks had already gotten my decks pretty clear and cockpit gear stowed.

I’m in my
fourth season as a kayaker coming from many years as a canoeist.

Got a roll two years ago. Have a real roll now. Even figured out my problem with the layback roll!

Prior to having a roll I thought I had a high brace. Unfortunately, it never worked as I often found out when I was out playin’ in the storms. In those days I had to stay closer to shore to avoid a dangerous swim if I couldn’t execute a self re-entry.

Once I learned to roll I discovered that I never really had a high brace. I had some kind of silly paddle slap on the water that generally came way too late and usually dove for unknown depths.

The last two years have been much more fun since I can roll. The concept of capsizing no longer holds any fear or trepidation.

Rolling represents freedom for a kayaker. The capsize is no longer an issue of concern.

Its good to be free!


1st Year
I was paddling out into icy february lake michigan waves in my perception chinook. There were 3-4 foot dumpers on a steep duck lake state park beach. I got out just fine, but there was a solid wall of breakers as far as the eye could see. Once I’d turned parallel with shore, there was no where to go. I went about three strokes before I was capsized and ejected from the kayak, (poor fit and nylon skirt). I was wearing an old wet suit and I didn’t even attempt a recovery, too out of it. I just swam for it. The wetsuit wasn’t keeping me warm until I’d swum almost all the way to shore, and for about the first 100 yards I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it in. I finally washed up where my wife, 7 months preganant stood on the beach watching the whole thing.

Luckily my boat and paddle washed up too.

I learned to roll the next summer.

My Third Canoe/Dog Practice
Thought we had progressed to the point that we were on our way to learning to paddle together. On our third practice day she learned that it was not only gratifing to see up close what that was that moved by jumping out it was also great fun to tip the entire boat over so that I could swim also.


non roller or thought I was a roller?
I certainly thought I was a roller when I went over in the ocean with my wife watching about 6 months ago. I lost my paddle, lost my boat…(recovered both after about 10 minutes swimming in opposite directions) and did a paddle float re-entry. spent more energy (I thought) pumping most of the water out of the boat and sheepishly made my way to shore.

Wife not impressed.

Lifeguard not impressed (but at least he didn’t say anything)

last time in the SOF which I wrote about in the other thread…

Are there still situations where I feel that I may not be able to recover and have to wet exit? Probably. so does that make me a non roller then?



– Last Updated: May-17-06 8:20 AM EST –

worst: In sit on top with thigh straps that I could roll. Surfing in ocean, parallel to a wave, high brace planning to to turn down wave and have fun. Next thing I know I am high bracing but boat is gone. Nasty swim with rips, would have drowned witout my pfd.
What I learned need lap belt to play in waves or you can loose boat or use regular kayak with spray skirt(not a fan of leashes in breaking waves although there are some people that are), pay attention to rip currents, IF YOU ARE SWIMMING AND NOT GOING ANYWHERE SWIM PARALLEL TO BEACH, and of course were pfd.
Second worse on my 33rd birthday went out in sea kayak in noreaster. It was in chesapeake bay have not seen the water as rough since then. Went into wind without problem turned around to catch waves home and started cranking. Went over fairly soon after going with wind was breathing hard when flipped and wet exited. I fooled around with paddle float thing, swam for a while with boat, and then just rentered and rolled without paddle float. Did not pump out cockpit (should have) which made bow heavy and stern stick up. As a result I could not turn boat to face down wind and paddled backwards until I landed and emptied boat and figure out that water in boat was reason I could not turn to face down wind.
What I learned: I don't really like paddle float .At the time of this adventure I had a roll but had my confidence shaken a bit by yet another out of boat experience not worth mentioning, so instead of re-entry roll I tried paddle float stuff. What I don't like about paddle float is once you are in your boat you have this thing attached to your paddle so you cant paddle, then you have to get it off your paddle without capsizing, then store it without capsizing (ether shove it in cockpit were it will fall out with next capsize or deflate it while not capsizing and put it back were it belongs). The other thing I learned is that while it is possible to paddle boat with cockpit full of water it is not possible to stear it with strong winds unless you pump out water (one end sits deep in water and other stick up in air catching wind).
Of note these epsiodes happened because I like to play in rough water and could have been easily avoided by staying out of surf, wind, and waves. I make sure to make a thourough risk assesment prior to any paddle that includes being prepared for imersion and swimming. My plans do not include the possibility of someone else helping me. I am not willing to loose my life playing in my boats and am prepared to paddle until I am old.